The history books of indie music will recall the mid-1990’s as the highpoint of Brit-pop where Blur, Oasis and Pulp dominated the airwaves and gave great interviews. Though they all had a positive input, a new band in Belgium were creating some very original music which got them high praise from critics and a reasonably-sized cult following. dEUS’s first album, now reissued as a deluxe 3 CD package (I’ve focussed on the original album for the purposes of this review), is definitely worth a reappraisal.
The invention on display here still leaves the mouth watering. From the beginning we have the Velvet Underground meets UK punk of ‘Suds & Soda’ and then ‘W.C.S. (First Draft)’; one of several tracks to incorporate jazz in to alternative rock (a long time before it was fashionable to do so). Meanwhile, ‘Jigsaw You’ and the almost teary ‘Right As Rain’ reveal the sensitive side that was always at the heart of their music and also offer the best evidence of Tom Barman’s highly emotive vocals.
That said, ‘Worst Case Scenario’ is not perfect. If dEUS were credited with making the likes of Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits listenable, the ugly, crazed ‘Mute’ and ‘Great American Nude’ seemed to be a step backwards. Such small sins were forgiveable, however, as ‘Via’ and ‘Hotellounge’ standout as alternative classics of their time and lasting documents of their unique melodic genius.
Although not their best album (by 1999’s ‘The Ideal Crash’ they had smoothed some of the rough edges whilst still retaining their idiosyncratic charm), ‘Worst Case Scenario’ is an important record as it was arguably the first time Belgian rock was taken seriously outside of its homeland. Moreover, its eclectic mix of styles was pioneering for alternative music in general and it still sounds exciting today.
Dawn Of The Replicants, Captain Beefheart